Monday, August 06, 2007

When Running Isn't Going Well

Boy, when I fall off the blogging wagon I sure do go face first. There are a number of factors conspiring to kill my motivation to post lately, but in the end it was really just a thick malaise that set in over the past 16 days. Sure, I was busy with my summer class, but I seemed to find the time before. Running hasn't been going well and I didn't feel the need to spout off about it. Until now, I guess.

So, when we last spoke I was runnnig the Lumberjack Days 10M in Stillwater, MN. I can't say it went badly, but I wasn't too excited with the outcome. I won in 51:42, but it was how the race played out that I found unsettling. I was strong through 4 miles, but from there on I felt out of sorts. My form felt weak and stumbling. Most telling was my weakness on the few uphills (really just inclines) I encountred over the second half of the race. That has always been my strong point. Also adding to my list of race negatives was the twinge I felt in my left hamstring right before the race. It seemed to flare a bit when I was doing a long stride-out, but oddly enough I didn't notice it as much when I was running hard during the race. I had 6 miles scheduled for the cooldown, but I went into it thinking I would be lucky if I got a mile in. My leg felt totally locked up. Good thing I kept going though. It loosened up as I got going and as soon as I returned home I did the ice bath/hot bath tango for the next hour. That with some stretching seemed to help avert disaster. I got in 18 loose miles the next day.

Tuesday (7/24) was to be 4x1600, 4x400. I was feeling good going into the workout and the weather seemed to be cooperating, but once again I pussed out. I had no fight. I believe I went 4:47, 4:47, 2:28! At that point I stopped and jogged for a couple minutes did another 2:24 and decided to move on to the 400's. 64-66-64-62. So, while I finished on a high note, the overall lack of balls or even just a rational approach to the workout (why not run them a little slower) was disconcerting. Screw it I said.

I got in a nice hill workout on Thursday (7/26), 6x350m hills over on the West River Rd. I didn't feel the strongest, but I felt like I was consistent through the workout. At that point I was happy with anything that consisted of a completed workout.

Saturday (7/28) was a fun, fast mile. The Rice Street Mile was a team race for the USATF-MN Circuit this year and I thought it might help to mix things up. I had no expectations going in, but somehow I was more nervous before this race than a marathon or 50k. I just knew it was going to hurt right away. Given the rough nature of the crowd (this takes place during the Rice Street Festival in St Paul) I felt sufficiently motivated to run as fast as possible. Even then I was hit in the head with something thrown from the crowd around the 1/2 mile mark (I think it was a cube of ice). Nice. I finished up strong in 4:19, but right after the race I knew I should have kicked earlier. I had more left in my legs if only I had prepared my mind a little better. Everyone said the same thing after the race "It was over so quick". This race accomplished everything I was looking for. I felt recharged.

Sunday (7/29) I hit the Lakes for my good ole' 30 mile run (3x10M loops). It was a little steamy, but I had my water bottle and I started off easy. 68 min for the first loop, 65 minutes for the second loop and then a pretty relaxed 66 minutes for the third loop as I ran into Ben Merchant and Derek Dippon out there. I probably would have pushed the pace on this third lap if I had been on my own, but I found it much more enjoyable (and easier on my legs) to chat with two guys I don't normally run with.

Monday (7/30) is where it all started to fall apart. After the final lecture of my Mgmt Acct class before the final I came out to catch a ride home from Katie and the car wouldn't start. Eventually we got it started and where driving to the repair shop on Lake St when it gave out. Katie managed to steer it over to the side of the road into a parking spot, but then we had to walk home (~2 miles) through a not great neighborhood. In the dark. Oh and Katie's sandal broke so she had to walk barefoot until we got the the Cub Foods on Lake St where I bought some packing tap to fix it.

Tuesday I had skip my afternoon run because I really needed to study for the final in my class.

Wednesday, well, that studying didn't seem to do much good because I felt a bit lost on the test. I felt like that on the mid-term too, and got a 93, so I hope that its the same this time around. Not helping matters, a student decided to inform the professor, who decided to inform the class in general that the 35W bridge had collapsed. That brought about a bit of confusion and served as a nice distraction for the rest of the exam.

I work on the 5th floor of the West Bank Office Building, that nice big glass building that says "University of Minnesota" at 35W and Washington Ave. So Thursday I had to deal with a bit of hassle trying to get to my office, as we are also right across from the Red Cross, the staging area for the recovery effort. I'm not complaining though. I'm alive, I wasn't on that bridge, so its really not a bit hassle. We did get kicked out of our building Thursday afternoon and we were told to work from home (yeah right) on Friday since Laura Bush was coming and the Secret Service didn't want us in the building. Re: the bridge. We have a unobstructed view straight down to the river where the bridge collapsed and I have to say it is both sickening, knowing that people are buried under that concrete, and unbelievable that more people didn't die.

And, while I hate it when people with no connection to the event try to make it personal or insinuiate themselves into the catastrophe ("I could have been on that bridge if such and such...), I keep thinking about all the times I've run under that bridge on West River Rd and what would I have done if I had been there at that moment. Would I have been able to outrun falling steel and concrete? Just a mental exercise, nothing that is keeping me up at night. Maybe sometimes I'm a little too detached.

So I got to go home early on Thursday with a workout scheduled. What specific workout wasn't really decided yet. Daniels called for 5M, 4M, 3M, 1M threshold runs, but I felt it was a little too much volume so instead I opted for one of "my" workouts, 15x 1k with 1 min recovery. Crash and burn. Spare details. Basically 3:10, 3:13, 3:12, 3:12, 3:13, 3:12, done. Again, no fight. I did force myself out on a cooldown, but by this time my mind was mush. The funk has officially set in.

Friday. Crap. Day off from work. Two runs scheduled. Morning run walked twice, including the last 1/2 mile. I don't want to run anymore. Everything hurts. I have to have a sports hernia. Doctor called. Hamstrings sore. Hips sore. Lower back sore. Heart rate high. Lethargic. Days off in my future.

Saturday. Nothing
Sunday. Nada.
Today. Zip, but.....there is hope. Corner turned. Mind is there. Sneezing causes no pain. Hamstrings tight, but not sore. Goals, reevaluated? Wait and see? Just run.


Eric said...

Take a hot bath and wrap a hot towel around your head. That's the only advice I have for you. It worked for Ferris Bueller, it could work for you.

I think you'll be fine, although the timing is unfortunate. Good to have you back blogging again, btw. Take care.

Evan Roberts said...

Sorry to hear you've been feeling blah, and best of luck for getting back into it.

Gregg said...

sorry things aren't going as eric said unfortunate timing. take the time off and enjoy for now. It sucks and thats a fact, but if that's what your body is going to do, let it. Drink a bottle of Pinot Noir and watch some good movies and take a couple walks/bikes with your wife and get ready for the fall which you know as well as I do, the running is great then! Give me a call sometime if you want.